Despite significant advances in most forms of publishing, from blogs to news sites and other user-generated web content, the process of authoring scholarly articles remains an expensive, time-consuming process that can require significant up-front investment and technical expertise. While a number of electronic publishing and workflow management systems exist, those intended for the scientific publishing (SP) community provide at best only rudimentary authoring tools – and in many cases merely provide a repository for document files created in other formats, with no authoring features at all. It is as if the entire revolution in online, web-based content authoring tools has passed the SP community by. And despite the development of advanced document formats such as the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) journal article document type definition (DTD), virtually no current system allows scientific authors to easily create structured documents based on the DTD by using simple web-based tools.
Annotum, a new open-source journal authoring and publishing system being developed by Solvitor LLC (with private funding), will fill the void in web-based authoring tools for the SP community. Annotum will be released as open-source software, freely available to anyone in the SP community to use, extend, or enhance. Hosted versions of Annotum will also be available for a moderate hosting fee -- in line with blog hosting services currently available.
Develop a simple, robust, easy-to-use authoring system to create and edit scholarly articles using the NLM Journal article DTD format, and deliver a working, functional system that can be used to create, maintain, and publish scholarly articles.
Modern platforms such as WordPress provide a model for a successful eJournal authoring platform – WordPress is extremely simple to set up and run, with rich, user-friendly web-based editing controls and easily-extended functionality using plugins. The WordPress ‘ecosystem’ not only provides free and open access to source code, with a rich array of developers for themes, plugins, and extensions, but also numerous cheap or free hosting opportunities for technical and non-technical users alike.
However, WordPress is missing some key SP requirements:
Annotum will build upon the WordPress platform as a foundation, filling in the gaps by providing the following additional features:
This proposed feature set is only a starting point, however. By presenting this project overview at Beyond The PDF, I hope to gather input from science practitioners, journal publishers, tool makers, and other interested parties in order to refine and improve the requirements for Annotum version 1.0. I also hope to generate ideas for future versions and enhancements of this open-process, open-access, open-source toolset.